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Alix & Shawn


*Alix & Shawn*

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

To build on yesterday’s conversation about Why A Wedding, we have Alix, whose wedding in LA’s Natural History Museum makes me want to hug the world. But what I find particularly fascinating about Alix‘s Wedding Graduate post is how she talks about figuring out what a marriage is when your parent have been divorced for as long as you can remember. And, taxidermied animals aside, the part of this post that makes me gasp with delight is this line, “The thing is that the experience of getting married is in some ways indescribable. It is as if you walk through this invisible door and something happens, but you can only see it by looking back through the door at where you were before.” Because that’s how it was for me, too.Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

From the beginning planning our wedding was strange for me in that the whole idea of marriage had been so foreign my whole life. My parents were divorced before I was one, so I had no memories of them together. While I always believed in commitment, I was not raised with the concept of marriage and for most of my life I did not imagine I would get married.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

It wasn’t until the past few years when Shawn and I started attending our friends’ weddings did I begin to see the significance of marriage and actual weddings themselves. When Shawn asked me to marry him it was as if this weight I had been carrying around my whole life without realizing it was lifted from my shoulders. I had found the one person I wanted and he had found me.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

So we embarked on planning this event, this huge party tied down to tradition and loaded with emotional significance. Despite my excitement, it was difficult for me at first. While there were the usual stresses of choosing venues and wardrobe and staying within our budget, the hardest part was feeling like I was alone.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

I didn’t feel like I had that core group of friends or a close family to help me through the process. It wasn’t that the people close to me were absent, I just didn’t know how to ask them to be a part of the experience with me. Then I found APW and all the intelligent, thoughtful ladies who inspired me and helped me through the process with their own stories. I was no longer alone.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

When I started to imagine our wedding I imagined an intimate outdoor affair where we would be surrounded by those closest to us in the midst of nature. This was my dream. Shawn on the other hand was adamant about having an indoor wedding. He warned me about what happens when it rains on outdoor weddings. I proclaimed that it never rains in sunny Los Angeles.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

Ultimately, we agreed to have the wedding indoors, in the Natural History Museum. If we weren’t going to be married outside, we were at least going to be married surrounded by taxidermied animals. Needless to say, it poured on the day of our wedding. The skies opened up and let down a flood of water, and in a way it was one of my favorite parts of the day as we still had the fury of nature in the middle of the city.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

Before our wedding I felt like a sponge, absorbing everyone’s thoughts and advice about weddings, as I tried to understand the scope of what I was heading into. The thing is that the experience of getting married is in some ways indescribable. It is as if you walk through this invisible door and something happens, but you can only see it by looking back through the door at where you were before.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

And yet with all these warnings about the emotional magnitude of a wedding, I worried that I would somehow not feel that transformation. Even just after getting married I worried my wedding didn’t have this elusive specialness, even if it was cool. It wasn’t until Shawn and I returned from our honeymoon that I was able to see the glittering magic that the wedding had dusted on our lives. We were married and it was wonderful, pure and simple.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

For the most part, we were given free range with our wedding choices. Our families never pressured us to do one thing or another and because of this, I feel that we were able to include more traditional elements that still resonated for us. We had a fully catered dinner with an entirely vegan menu. I danced with my father but didn’t do a bouquet toss. While our ceremony was about us, much of the rest of the wedding was for everyone who came. I made little stuffed animals as gifts for our guests, rather than buying throwaway favors. While it sounds like a crazy DIY craft project, it was something that I loved doing in the months leading up to the day. I poured my heart into each one, imagining the home it would go to, bringing with it a little piece of our love.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

We gave of ourselves at our wedding and in return we received the pure joy of our guests. The love and happiness of those close to us was palpable, blotting out the greyness of everyday life for weeks.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

The planning of a wedding is part of the journey of getting married. It’s not just about the one day or the few hours you have for a ceremony and party but the whole whirlwind of life that leads up to and follows it. In the months since our wedding I’ve tried to put into words the way things felt and what I learned in planning it all.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

Every time I sit down to write about our wedding I get stuck because there is just so much to say. Tonight my husband is at a bachelor party for his friend who will be married next week. It will be the first wedding we’ll be attending since our own and I knew this was the time that I had to share with all of you. I wanted to give back to the community that helped me through the wedding planning. This is my thank you to everyone who is a part of APW.

Alix & Shawn | A Practical Wedding

The Info—Photography: Liesl Henrickson / Venue: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles / Officiant: Elysia Skye / Decor, flowers, & coordination: Suki-Rose Etter / Catering: Jennie Cook’s Catering / Dress: Made by a local dressmaker from a design that Alix came up with! / Shoes: Beyond Skin / Suit Jacket: Denver Bespoke

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  • Lucy

    “I didn’t feel like I had that core group of friends or a close family to help me through the process. It wasn’t that the people close to me were absent, I just didn’t know how to ask them to be a part of the experience with me.”

    Oh, this. This is exactly how I feel most days. Out of curiosity, did you find a way to ask? Even now, only a few months away from the event, I’m having trouble verbalizing to people that I want their help, but I’m just not sure how I want them to help.

    • katieprue

      I want to know too! There are certain folks in my life who I wish (and kind of thought) would have been all over this wedding thing, but just aren’t. I’ve suggested little ways to pitch in here and there, but I feel like they won’t get done unless I pretty much do everything myself anyway just because I get zero feedback. Sorry, I’m sure that’s not very helpful, but maybe I’m not asking them in the right way??? Do I need to be more bossy or something? Asking for help is really hard for some of us!

      • http://routinebrilliance.com Brytani

        I definitely don’t think that you should be bossy. If you’ve suggested some ways to help and no one’s really responded, the chances are that they’re not comfortable with helping, or at least in those ways. I think if you are lucky enough to have someone who shows interest, though, it might be helpful to say “Oh, that is SO sweet and I truly appreciate it.” Then maybe give them some options or ask them if there’s any time that they could be available. They may only be able to help the weekend before the wedding or something and that would give you some ideas for activities during that time.

        Honestly, though, I feel like I should say that there’s a possibility that you won’t get the uprising that you expected from your community during planning. It’s great to ask and to offer people the chance to help and be a part of things because so many people just don’t know how to approach brides about it. However, I had an experience where my bridesmaids weren’t able to help and my mom (who paid for most of the wedding and therefore was awarded a big say in the matter) had a deep conviction that guests shouldn’t have to “work” at the wedding so I wasn’t able to ask for much. (Which, you’ll have to decide what kind of “work” you’re comfortable placing on your friends, family, and guests. To me there’s a world of difference between asking someone to iron a hundred napkins and having them hang bunting or put up some decorations. Great vendors help a lot here, too.) My mother-in-law helped me with a shower, food for the rehearsal dinner, and favors but otherwise I did everything else completely on my own or with a little help from my immediate family. It was lonely and it was one of those big things that I had to make peace with about my wedding but what made up for it was exactly what Alix said, “We gave of ourselves at our wedding and in return we received the pure joy of our guests. The love and happiness of those close to us was palpable…”

        So I think for everyone planning a wedding and maybe not getting so many offers to help, there’s a time when you might have to consider that you’re going to be on your own a lot and be okay with it. Or you may not be okay with it and choose to be more forceful…which may make your loved ones uncomfortable. It is still possible to be happy without a lot of help, though.

    • http://warrenpimp.blogspot.com/ Contessa

      I feel this same way! I have many people giving vague offers I just don’t know how to say, “Yes! Do this exact thing for me and all will be well.” It feels like giving orders or delegating work (which I suppose it is but it doesn’t seem right)…I can’t get my head around it.

      • http://elegantsimplewedding.blogspot.com PA

        Strange as it is, “Yes! Do X,” can work really well. Sometimes people will give you some clues as to what they are thinking of doing. For instance, one of my best friends, who knows I am doing a budget-y wedding, said to me, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do, set up or take down or anything,” and I said, “Great! I’ll put you in touch with my Maid of Honor, I would LOVE it if you could help clean up after the reception.” He’s happy to help, I’m relieved to know someone will be around to help her out.

        Now, as for how that goes on the Day Of, I’ll have to let you know after the wedding. But if the offers are vague, I’d suggest a leading question, such as, “Was there anything specific you had in mind?” One of my friends REALLY wants to do my manicure, which was a thing I had not even thought of!

      • Emily Rae

        I found that people tend to respond better when given a more specific task. I asked some people to bring a cake, some to help with the room flip, etc. It feels weird to ‘give orders’ like that, but in a sense you are the event coordinator, so it really helps everything flow better.

    • http://www.cuteanddelicious.com alix

      Lucy – and others,

      Emily already said this below but being really specific helps, not only with task but with time/location. Like, “Can you help me fold these wedding invitations this weekend?” I found that I wanted people to volunteer and that just wasn’t how it worked at all. In the end, friends and family really did come through for me in surprising ways, especially in the few weeks & days before the wedding.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        I agree. I actually sent out an email to a group of friends saying I was going to be assembling our invitations on two particular evenings, and if anyone was interested in hanging out and helping attach/cut/etc for a while, to email back and let me know. It worked well, and I think I had 3-4 people volunteer (and show up for) both “assembly days.” I was so thankful.

    • http://www.foodiewashere.com kc

      I am terrible at asking for help, so I spent a lot of my wedding planning feeling like an island. What I learned was that most people want to help. They want to be involved. They were asking me in a multitude of ways but because I was so used to doing it all alone I wasn’t hearing it. When people ask what can they do, give them tasks. Thank them profusely. If people aren’t offering, consider it may be because they don’t know what to ask either or maybe (as in my case) they’re so used to being turned down that they’ve stopped asking. Always give people an out when asking for help and try not to take a no personally. There were people who we reached out to who didn’t show up for us on our wedding day. And though it was disappointing, the number of people who did come through was so much larger.

    • Katy

      My good friend is getting married today! During the planning phase (and even today) I kept asking her if there was anything I could do to help. We did invitations and some decorating together but I didn’t want to keep bugging her about it because I figured that wedding planning was stressful enough. In other words, give your friends specific tasks, if they’re anything like me, they’re wondering how they can help anyhow! And for those of us (like me) who haven’t ever had a wedding and attended only 1 or 2, we have no idea what needs to be done, so please let us know!

  • http://craftosaurus.blogspot.com craftosaurus

    This is lovely; thank you for sharing it! My favorite part is the paragraph about giving of yourselves and getting joy from your guests in return. *sniff*

  • Moz

    What a beautiful grad post. Congrats on your marriage x

  • Shiri

    Oh my god, Alix. Getting to work and opening APW like every other day, and seeing one of your oldest friend’s weddings there (and a picture of yourself to illustrate the incredible amazing joy we all felt that day)? Best. Morning. Ever.

    I can’t tell you what it was like for all of us to watch you get married. For me, who hadn’t been a part of your day-to-day life in years, to see this incredible happiness and calmness that you had found, to watch it all put into a wedding that felt so honest and so, so happy – it was such a gift. I think back to your wedding a lot now that I’m planning mine.

    I had no idea you felt so alone in the planning, but I hope in the end, you felt the community – both online and present that day. I know that we (the three of us FW girls, at least) felt like part of something much bigger, and much more beautiful, that day.

    • http://www.cuteanddelicious.com alix

      Shiri –
      I have to say that spending the day baking cakes with you FW ladies was one of my favorite parts of the preparations and something that I hold very near to my heart. I’m so happy that you felt the same joy that I felt that day. I can’t wait for your wedding and I’m sure it will be full of the same wonder and happiness.
      xo
      p.s. also getting your email that you read this on APW when I hadn’t yet told anyone that I’d written was the best best best.

  • carrie

    “It is as if you walk through this invisible door and something happens, but you can only see it by looking back through the door at where you were before.”

    Meg mentioned this line at her talk in DC last night and when I went home babbling about all the fantastic stuff, this was one of the things that struck me the most. The evening we were married, even the day after, it didn’t *feel* terribly different to me. But it’s so true – now that we’re through the door I can see it when I look back. I thought maybe it would feel significant like a lightning bolt, but it didn’t. But neither did meeting my husband – it felt WEIGHTY after I realized what was going on. Which was the same with our wedding, and looking back on that door.

    Beautiful words, beautiful wedding. Congrats!!

  • http://elegantsimplewedding.blogspot.com PA

    “When Shawn asked me to marry him it was as if this weight I had been carrying around my whole life without realizing it was lifted from my shoulders. I had found the one person I wanted and he had found me.”

    I feel like so often we forget what weddings are really about (especially when we’re buried in the details). This was a beautiful quote! Thank you for sharing your wedding with us!

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com/ KA

    as someone who had engagement pics taken at the NY Museum of Natural History, all I can say is YAY!

    and the stuffed animals! thank god our wedding is over otherwise we’d be all over that. :)

  • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

    This was an absolutely beautiful post. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations to you and your husband!

  • http://www.foodiewashere.com kc

    I felt terribly alone too, at least until I started writing my blog. Hooray for the web, I say. I would have gone crazy without it. And I still love looking at your photos. So beautiful!

  • http://www.verhext.com tamerajane

    STILL the best wedding ever. You guys are the cutest!

  • Diane

    I don’t think anyone else has commented on this component, but thank you thank you thank you for talking about planning a wedding when your parents have been divorced for as long as you can remember. Mine divorced when I was 3 and remarried when I was 6 and 10 so I grew up around marriages but not married co-parents. I think this raises a different, but no less complicated, set of issues than those of families in which the parents divorced later, when the kids were teens or into their twenties. The good news is that my parents have had 27 years to move on from anger and have even developed a friendship. The challenge, though, is that I know I will need to learn on the fly how to live with, be married to, and parent with someone all at the same time. I guess more on that in the years to come, for now I’m just trying to navigate wedding planning and figuring out how to include everyone (parents, stepparents, future in-laws, aunts, friends) in a way that I can manage without feeling like I must answer to too many masters. Enjoy this new marriage adventure!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    The planning of a wedding is part of the journey of getting married. It’s not just about the one day or the few hours you have for a ceremony and party but the whole whirlwind of life that leads up to and follows it.

    I like this. Thank you.

  • http://www.soulwanderings.com/ one soul

    Holy carp, this is amazing! Thank YOU for sharing this.

    • http://www.soulwanderings.com/ one soul

      Ha! That was meant to be holy crap, but since carp seems more appropriate, I’ll leave it. ;)

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    I love this:
    “It was as if this weight I had been carrying around my whole life without realizing it was lifted from my shoulders”

    And I think this:
    “It is as if you walk through this invisible door and something happens, but you can only see it by looking back through the door at where you were before.”
    is why I keep looking around at my life and wondering how in the world I got to be an adult, in college, teaching, any of the other crazy parts of life that sneak up on me, and especially married, that seem to sneak up on me. I keep missing the invisible doors!

    So well said. Thank you!

  • http://stumbleandleap.com Becca

    Oh! I’d seen all your photos (NHM envy. hardcore) and read about the journey, but I love this summation so much. I see the glittering magic. And I know exactly what you mean about walking through that invisible door.

  • Tracy

    Alix…your wedding looks like it was lovely…I just want to sincerely thank you sharing all that you did and for the honesty in your feelings. It is so REFRESHING and it makes me feel better than any other wedding blog post I’ve read (and I admit – I’ve read alot!). Everyone likes to perpetuate the fairy tale. And really we need a little bit of that…but to also cover the fears and the stress is equally if not more important. I don’t feel so alone after reading what you wrote. Getting married is amazing and the planning process is fun. But I have often felt alone…part be/ca my family hasn’t really gotten involved and part is that I guess I hate asking friends for the help. But Im learning how to ask and find that when I do most people are happy to get involved. Even my sweet man! He’s really taken to all of the planning! so cute…like Shawn provided for you, T’s love for me has brought an enormous amount of peace.

    I wish you so much love and happiness. I have this feeing with someone as astute and honest as you that is exactly what will be… xo

  • http://alittlesaffronwouldmakethis.com ileana

    Wow, what a beautiful post. And I love the idea of getting married in a museum! Congrats on your marriage!

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